This. This. This.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines on preventing eating disorders in kids, and they don’t suck!

These sorts of things usually involve a lot of food rules and calorie-counting recommendations that make me REAL mad, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of really great stuff in here! It’s also depressing as hell, but I hope it’s a positive step away from the usual “let’s put kids on diets!” b.s.

Customarily absurd stock photo. A dieter must never be without a notebook, tape measure, and tomato.

Some choice quotes below. As you can probably tell, I had a hard time picking just a few and definitely recommend reading the whole thing if you’re so inclined. (Emphasis all mine, as are the parentheticals, obviously.)

Take it away, AAP:

  • EDs increasingly are being recognized in children as young as 5 to 12 years. {FIVE-YEAR-OLDS. My god.}
  • Increased [ED] prevalence rates also have been noted in males and minority youth. […] Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating occur in minority populations and are not limited to white girls and boys.
  • Most adolescents who develop an ED were not previously overweight. However, it is not unusual for an ED to begin with a teenager “trying to eat healthy.” Some adolescents and their parents misinterpret obesity prevention messages and begin eliminating foods they consider to be “bad” or “unhealthy.” {Very true to my experience}
  • US Food and Drug Administration–mandated nutrition facts on food labels list percent daily values based on a 2000-kcal diet. Moderately active adolescent girls require approximately 2200 kcal/day, and moderately active adolescent boys require 2800 kcal/day for normal growth and development. {In high school I picked up on the 1200-calorie diets I saw in women’s magazines. It is truly no wonder that I was binge eating by the time I got to college. My body was hungry and panicking.}
  • At first, weight loss is praised and reinforced by family members, friends, and health care providers, but ongoing excessive preoccupation with weight loss can lead to social isolation, irritability, difficulty concentrating, profound fear of gaining the lost weight back, and body image distortion. {Ugh. Yep.}
  • Dieting, defined as caloric restriction with the goal of weight loss, is a risk factor for both obesity and EDs. In a large prospective cohort study in 9- to 14-year-olds followed for 2 years, dieting was associated with greater weight gain and increased rates of binge eating in both boys and girls. {Dieting = binge eating = dieting = binge eating forever and ever and ever.}
  • In overweight adolescents, weight teasing by peers or family members is experienced by 40% of early adolescent females, 28.2% of middle adolescent females, 37% of early adolescent males, and 29% of middle adolescent males. Family weight teasing predicts the development of overweight status, binge eating, and extreme weight-control behaviors in girls and overweight status in boys. Adolescent girls who were teased about their weight at baseline were at approximately twice the risk of being overweight 5 years later. {This is just…… upsetting. Weight teasing is never ever ever ever funny, cute, charming, clever, or helpful. Probably preaching to the choir here, but c’mon, choir, let’s spread the word.}
  • Students who severely restricted their energy intake and skipped meals were 18 times more likely to develop an ED than those who did not diet; those who dieted at a moderate level had a fivefold increased risk. {18 TIMES MORE LIKELY. 18. Saved this for the grand finale because it knocks my socks off in the worst way possible. I wouldn’t wish an eating disorder on my worst enemy. Our kids deserve better than this.}

If you recognize yourself in any of these, you are not alone, and you are not doomed to live this way forever. It only takes one hyper-restrictive diet to get stuck in the binge-purge cycle, but there is a way out. To learn what worked for me, read about my six-month reset here.

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